Link blog: science, philosophy, theology, universe

‘A Universe From Nothing,’ by Lawrence M. Krauss –
David Albert, a professor of philosophy at Columbia who also has a physics PhD, points out that Krauss hasn’t really explained why there’s something rather than nothing by . Via Jerry Coyne.
(tags: theology philosophy religion krauss science quantum universe)

Link blog: descartes, consciousness, sampling, mp3

gmancasefile: TSA: Fail
“I have dealt with TSA since its inception and FAA security prior to that. I have witnessed TSA operate since they became a separate organization in 2002 and seen their reaction to intelligence provided them. I have now watched them operate for a decade, and I have respect for their hard-working employees who are doing a thankless job. But I have come to the conclusion that TSA is one of the worst-run, ineffective and most unnecessarily intrusive agencies in the United States government.”
(tags: america 911 hijacking usa government fbi politics DHS security tsa)
Open letter to violent Muslim protestors | The Chronicle
“I really don’t understand how my fellow Muslims do not see that, with their reactions, they actually prove what has been said about them by their enemies. You call my religion evil or terrorism and, in order to “disprove” this insult, I will go kill people, burn embassies, act like a bloodthirsty crazy person…. Don’t you fellow Muslims see the ridiculousness of this logic and actions! The uncivilized images of these violent protests by these irresponsible and violent Muslims shape the image of 1.6 billion Muslims all around the world. “
(tags: violence religion terrorism quran islam)
Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities. » – Happenings and observations
Don’t register a .com if you don’t want the US authorities to be able to take it down, apparently.
(tags: SOPA web law DNS verisign internet domains icann)
24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed
“there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space.” Includes good stuff about how ears work. Via andrewducker.
(tags: Nyquist sound sampling mp3 science music audio)
The Crazyist Metaphysics of Mind by Eric Schwitzgebel
“Crazyism about X is the view that something that it would be crazy to believe must be among the core truths about X. In this essay, I argue that crazyism is true of the metaphysics of mind. A position is “crazy” in the intended sense if it is contrary to common sense and we are not epistemically compelled to believe it. …. Well developed metaphysical theories will inevitably violate common sense, I argue, because common sense is incoherent in matters of metaphysics. No coherent and detailed view could respect it all. Common sense is thus impaired as a ground of choice. Nor can scientific evidence or abstract theoretical virtue compellingly favor any one moderately specific metaphysical approach over all competitors. Something bizarre must be true about the mind, but which bizarre propositions are the true ones, we are in no good position to know.”
(tags: crazyism david-chalmers epistemology descartes dualism idealism materialism consciousness metaphysics philosophy)

Link blog: science, relationships, epistemology, biology

Hegemonic Heterosexuality
“hegemonic heterosexuality is the vast cultural conspiracy to describe all heterosexual relationships as the unending war between stupid people and crazy people.” Good observation of the view of the world promoted by TV and film. Via auntysarah.
(tags: psychology relationships sex)
The Apologist’s Turnstile
“the idea that no particular level of knowledge is needed to assent to a religion, but an impossibly, unattainably high level of knowledge and expertise is needed to deny it. In the minds of many believers, the entrance to their religion is like a subway turnstile: a barrier that only allows people to pass through in one direction.”
(tags: apologist epistemology religion atheism)
Cancer is just as deadly as it was 50 years ago. Here’s why that’s about to change.
“We spoke to cancer experts to find out why the death rate from cancer hasn’t changed in the past 50 years — and we learned how genetic therapies could transform cancer treatments tomorrow.”
(tags: medicine biology science genetics cancer)
How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism – Maarten Boudry
“In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (Intrinsic MN or IMN). Alternatively, we will defend MN as a provisory and empirically grounded attitude of scientists, which is justified in virtue of the consistent success of naturalistic explanations and the lack of success of supernatural explanations in the history of science. (Provisory MN or PMN). Science does have a bearing on supernatural hypotheses, and its verdict is uniformly negative.”
(tags: creationism intelligent-design religion science naturalism philosophy)

Link blog: philosophy, hume, atheism, david-hume

Times Higher Education – Divine irony

Blackburn’s summary of Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”.
(tags: simon-blackburn david-hume hume history religion philosophy atheism)

A Christmas Cracker

“On 16 December 1893, when Parliament had been in continuous session for 11 months and it had been announced that members would have only four daysě°˝€™ recess for Christmasě°˝€”Mr Gladstone received a letter in a neat but childish hand, written on ruled paper, from the infant son of the Earl of Pembroke.”
(tags: parliament history funny politics)

Good Minus God: The Moral Atheist –

Louise M. Antony writes a reasonable introduction to the idea that being an atheist does not lead to moral nihilism. Mentions the Euthyphro dilemma but doesn’t deal directly with apologetical responses about “God’s nature” (but then we’ve dealt with those here before, I think).
(tags: Euthyphro morality ethics philosophy religion atheism)

Of Hume and Bondage –

Simon Blackburn defends Hume from some sillier criticisms, and wonders what philosophy is for.
(tags: simon-blackburn hume david-hume philosophy)

Talking Philosophy | Religion and science: the issue that won’t go away

This is great, and has productive discussion in the comments too. Subscribed!

“Recall that the rise of science did not subtract from our pre-existing resources for investigating the world. Rather, it added to them; and the old pragmatic and scholarly methods and the new, distinctively scientific, ones can always be used together in any given case. We need to know whether such claims as that Jesus rose from the dead and that the universe was created by God are plausible when set against what we know overall about how the world works, both through methods that we could have employed anyway and through the distinctive methods developed by science.

When the question is framed like that, surely we don’t think that these claims come under no pressure at all from our best empirical investigations of the world?”
(tags: resurrection russell-blackford philosophy science religion)

Islam and “Islamophobia” – a little manifesto

“The extreme right benefits from the availability of politically respectable criticisms of Islamic thought and associated cultural practices. As this goes on, there is a risk that the word “Islamophobia” will be used to demonize and intimidate individuals whose hostility to Islam is genuinely based on what they perceive as its faults. In particular, we should remember that Islam contains ideas, and in a liberal democracy ideas are fair targets for criticism or repudiation. … After all, there are reasons why extreme-right organizations have borrowed arguments based on feminism and secularism. These arguments are useful precisely because they have an intellectual and emotional appeal independent of their convenience to extreme-right opportunists.”
(tags: islamophobia politics religion islam)

All things to all people, but Christmas is … people – The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A very human Christmas to you all 🙂
(tags: religion christmas)

Link blog: science, philosophy, naturalism, epistemology

Scientific presuppositions and the supernatural « Just Another Deisidaimon

Konrad Talmont-Kaminski on the metaphysical/methodological naturalism distinction, which he thinks is a distortion of actual naturalist views: “it effectively assumes the primacy of ontology over epistemology… assumes that to understand science one must begin with the ontology of science. This is very much understandable from the point of view of someone who was brought up on a Christian religion that is presented as having its basis in a number of ontological claims that must be taken as true. It is also a profound misunderstanding of what science is. It would be better to think of science in terms of various methods that are used to investigate the world. The scientific ontology is an a posteriori result of the application of those methods to the world. To put it in other terms again, ontological naturalism is the a posteriori result of accepting epistemic naturalism. Yet, even that is not quite right as it suggests that science can be identified in terms of some set of methods.”
(tags: philosophy science religion epistemology naturalism)

Link blog: cambridge, funny, philosophy, twitter

War of words breaks out among Jehovah’s Witnesses – Home News, UK – The Independent

For some reason, a bunch of newspapers in the UK have recently noticed that the Jehovas Witnesses are a cult. Nice to see so many people in the comments relating their stories of getting out.
(tags: religion cult jehovas-witness)

Richard Feynman on doubt, uncertainty and religion (subtitled) – YouTube

Feynman! Thou shouldst be living at this hour.
(tags: feynman doubt religion science physics)


A chapter from Law’s “Believing Bullshit” about the tactic he calls “going nuclear”: when the argument is going against you, blow everyone away by saying that “all arguments rest on faith” or “everything is relative” or some other such nonsense. Law anatomises the various forms of this tactic.
(tags: philosophy rationality argument stephen-law presuppositionalism)

Meeting Jesus at Oxford | Commentary | Fortean Times

CICCUs cousins DICCU and OICCU made the Fortean Times. Gripping stuff, with some ideas about why evangelical religion is so appealing to people at the famous universities.
(tags: ciccu religion university oxford cambridge)

An Interview with @AlmightyGod | Friendly Atheist

God has a Twitter feed (@almightygod). Hemant interviews Him.
(tags: religion funny god twitter)

Link blog: programming, development, vim, editor

Text Message | Sunday Magazine

(tags: telegraph communication sms message)

Writing Vim Plugins / Steve Losh

What it says on the tin.
(tags: programming vim plugin development editor)

Coming Home to Vim / Steve Losh

Someone's page about going back to Vim, listing some config options I didn't know about.
(tags: programming tools vim editor tutorial)

Lost Garden: Rules of Productivity Presentation

"How do we get more work done? It is a question that every manager and every passionate worker faces. Yet, for the most part, teams operate on gut instinct and habit. The results are less than optimal. Over the years I've been collecting small pieces of research on various factors that actually seem to improve productivity. I've assembled eight of these experiments into a PowerPoint presentation. Feel free to use the graphs and data within to spread these practical ideas throughout your own teams." Via andrewducker.
(tags: psychology programming software development overtime scrum productivity)

CPBD 089: John Shook – Dewey, Quine, and Some Varieties of Naturalism

John Shook talks to Luke Muehlhauser about philosophical naturalism (with a transcript, for those of you who hate podcasts). Interesting to find about the various naturalistic philosophies, and to see the responses to the supernaturalist "you naturalists think everything is just atoms" argument.
(tags: philosophy naturalism science physics materialism)

Link blog: philosophy, hume, euthypro-dilemma, epistemology

The Problem of Induction

Nice summary of Hume on induction.
(tags: philosophy hume induction knowledge epistemology science)

OK Go, The Muppets – Muppet Show Theme Song – YouTube

OK Go and the Muppets!
(tags: okgo muppets video music)

Mr. Deity and the Philosopher – YouTube

"Well, if I did order genocide, I'd have a pretty good reason, or at least, an apologist could make one up." Nice. The begging bit at the end is funny too.
(tags: euthypro-dilemma philosophy funny mr-deity religion)

A Sketch of an Anti-Realist Metaethics – Less Wrong

Nice explanation of the map/territory distinction, and seems to accord pretty closely with my own views on morality.
(tags: hume philosophy metaethics ethics morality less-wrong lesswrong)

Link blog: philosophy, theodicy, geert-wilders, turing

Unequally Yoked: Guestblogging Challenge: Take the Ideological Turing Test!

A suggestion: if you want to show that you understand the other side's position, test whether you can be distinguished from a genuine advocate of that position in a suitably anonymous test.
(tags: philosophy debate turing)

Theodicy: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Nice metaphor for "solutions" to the Problem of Evil.
(tags: theodicy philosophy comic religion)

Distinguish – Butterflies and Wheels

Ophelia Benson on the Geert Wilders thing: "Nobody should be required to love Islam."
(tags: islam geert-wilders religion)

A field guide to bullshit – opinion – 13 June 2011 – New Scientist

"How do people defend their beliefs in bizarre conspiracy theories or the power of crystals? Philosopher Stephen Law has tips for spotting their strategies." A bit similar to my Bad Arguments stuff: Law has "everything is based on faith" as the so-called "nuclear option". An interesting article, might buy the book he's plugging.
(tags: religion science empiricism sceptism philosophy new-age)

Link blog: funny, sam-harris, rapture, science

YouTube – Tim Minchin’s Storm the Animated Movie

Tim Minchin's beat poem about New Age bullshit has an official animation to accompany it. I'd not seen it before: thanks to gjm11 for linking to it.
(tags: funny religion new-age science)

The Daily Mash – Biblical apocalypse leaves much of Britain unchanged

Mother-to-two Emma Bradford lives in Penzance, where a horde of creatures straight out of the painting Garden of Earthly Delights is on a bloody rampage.
She said: "They're scaly and bulbous-headed and they soil the streets with their demon fire-piss.
"And then they have a kebab."
(tags: funny rapture religion uk)

The Blog : Morality Without “Free Will” : Sam Harris

Sam Harris asks how the neuroscience of free will, or the lack of free will, should affect moral questions. I don't think people have libertarian free will, so it's nice to see Harris arguing that this doesn't mean an end to morality.
(tags: sam-harris free-will morality philosophy neuroscience)

Honolulu Magazine | The Secret Life of Storage Units in Honolulu

What people do with their storage lockers. Including running a business from them…
(tags: storage culture housing)